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HPV not limited to cervical cancer, experts recommend inoculation for boys too
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DUBAI: Latifa Hospital chief executive officer Dr Muna Tahlak on Tuesday afternoon said the way to completely wipe out the cancer-causing Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is to have both genders vaccinated against it.

She expressed her view at the roundtable discussions on “HPV and Vaccines” organised by the US pharmaceutical firm MSD in its commitment to increase community awareness on the prevalence and rise of illnesses caused by the virus which in the first place is preventable primarily through vaccination.

“Like polio, the HPV is also going to be eradicated through vaccination, a preventive care,” said Tahlak.

The Obstetrician-Gynaecologists Society (UAE) president added it is not only about cervical cancer, the most serious and fatal consequence of HPV among women on the global scale. It is also eliminating all the pre-cancerous cells that may progress into all other forms of cancers namely anal cancer in both genders, vulvar cancer in women, and penile cancer in men.

“Boys must be vaccinated too,” she said from the sidelines.

Fifteen per cent of her patients have been diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Meanwhile, Zulekha Hospital obstetrician-gynaecologist specialist Dr Asha Anand told The Gulf Today: “Many of the cancers caused by HPV infection in both men and women could be prevented by HPV vaccination recommended by doctors and other health experts for both boys and girls at ages 11 and 12.”

She was interviewed a fortnight back after the hospital launch of its anti-cervical cancer initiative wherein 500 free anti-HPV vaccines are given to women.

Anand said, “Cases of anal cancer and cancers of the mouth and throat (as a result of HPV being common) are on the rise.  Unlike cervical cancer, there are no screening tests for these cancers, so (these) are often caught at a later stage when they are difficult to treat.”

From the Tuesday discussions, Tahlak and Tawam Hospital-Obstetrics/Gynaecology Department chairman and gynaecologist consultant Dr. Saad Aswad defined “HPV as the stable virus (transmitted) through intimate skin-to-skin contact.”

Aswad said its ill effects manifest between 10 and 20 years later.

Aswad recalled the 2017 meetings he had with the Ministry of Health and Prevention wherein he was asked about his stand on the 25 per cent reduction of cancer cases in the UAE by 2022 and sweeping off breast/cervical/prostate/lung cancers.

This was his take: pap smear will help reduce the progress of HPV into cervical cancer by 40 to 60 per cent and vaccinating girls against the virus before they get into personal intimate circumstances would lower the incidence by 90 per cent.

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